Hardly a day goes by when Trump doesn’t cite some poll showing his large lead in the GOP primary polls. I imagine he’s built up a lot of muscle patting himself on the back.
For example, on Tuesday, Trump’s campaign sent out an email citing a Harvard/Harris poll showing Trump “with a commanding 45-point lead in the 2024 GOP primary — with his nearest challenger [DeSantis] hemorrhaging support and tumbling to the low teens.”
The email then asserted that “In a general election matchup against Joe Biden, President Trump continues to be the strongest Republican candidate to win.”
There is some truth to this, but it’s not the most accurate portrayal of the state of the general election. National general election polls are certainly informative, but the general election isn’t a nationwide popular vote. It’s 50 separate state elections (plus the District of Columbia), where most states award all their Electoral College votes to the winner of each state.
According to battleground state polling by Public Opinion Strategies, when it comes to actually winning the states needed to win the election, DeSantis may actually be the candidate who can deliver victory. The organization’s latest poll shows DeSantis with the edge over Biden in three key battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
In the state of Arizona, DeSantis garners 47% of the support compared to Biden’s 41% — an advantage of six points. However, Biden currently has a 2-point edge with 45% over Trump’s 43%.
In Georgia, Gov. DeSantis also outperforms Trump in a match-up with Biden. The Peach State backs DeSantis, giving him 49% support, compared to Biden, who stands at 46%. Trump trails Biden in the poll by two points, with Biden getting 47% to his 45%.
In Pennsylvania, DeSantis has a three-point lead over Biden, getting 48% to Biden’s 45%, while in a Trump/Biden match-up, the numbers are reversed, with Biden getting 48% and Trump getting 45%.
🇺🇲 2024 Battleground States polling by @POStrategies (DeSantis internal, RVs, 06/17-19)
DeSantis: 47% (+6)
Biden: 45% (+2)
DeSantis: 49% (+3)
Biden: 47% (+2)
DeSantis: 48% (+3)
Biden: 48% (+3)
Trump: 45% pic.twitter.com/pV6J7yQSbX
— InteractivePolls (@IAPolls2022) June 21, 2023
Now, I should point out that I still believe that Donald Trump can win the general election. But, assuming these polls are accurate, DeSantis is arguably in a better position to win these key battleground states than Trump is. If all other results from 2020 stayed the same, but Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania voted for DeSantis, he’d win the election.
Other polls have shown DeSantis with an edge in battleground state polling. In April, WPA Intelligence polling showed DeSantis leading Biden in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, and was in a dead heat with Biden in Wisconsin.
Polling is by no means an exact science, but Donald Trump swears by it regularly… as long as he’s winning. Any time a poll shows him in the lead, he’s sharing it, boasting about it, and making sure every journalist and their second cousin is aware of it.
In fairness, there are battleground state polls that show him beating Biden as well, and that just proves the point that this is how we should be looking at this election. The national polls may look great for Trump, but they aren’t nearly as important as the state polls. If you’re voting based on who you think is the best chance to win the general election, the state polls are infinitely more important than national polls.